2013 Carolina Panthers Notebook

Ron Rivera: Carolina Panthers’ offense under Mike Shula will be simplified, huddles faster

jjones@charlotteobserver.comMay 30, 2013 

Mike Shula’s offense is considered to be more traditional than what the Panthers experienced under Rob Chudzinski’s direction the past two seasons as offensive coordinator.

What it will look like on Week One is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure with coach Ron Rivera: They’ll be getting out of the huddle faster in 2013.

By simplifying the verbiage for play calls, Rivera expects the team to break the huddle faster and with less confusion.

“We want to be up-tempo, we want to practice up-tempo and get things going up-tempo,” Rivera said Thursday at organized team activities. “That’s what you see, you see more of that in the last couple weeks in these OTAs.”

Quarterback Cam Newton mentioned the simplified verbiage as a big difference between the philosophies of Chudzinski and Shula, who took over at the offensive coordinator in January after Chudzinski took the Cleveland Browns head coaching job.

Newton said when streamlining the play-calling, players can play faster.

Rivera said there were too many words for certain calls. Now, the team is creating words that combine certain calls.

“I think it’s a mouthful,” Rivera said. “...Now what you’ve done is you’ve taken these words and you’ve grouped them together. That was the whole idea. If this means this, and this means this with these two together, then let’s just combine those.

“And that’s kind of what they’ve started to do. They’re really shortened the calls a lot simpler. The less you have to memorize, the easier it is.”

Munnerlyn out: Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn may be out until the start of training camp, he said Thursday.

The fourth-year defensive back suffered an abdominal strain while exercising just before the start of OTAs last week and hasn’t been able to participate.

Last Tuesday on the first day of practice, he made a break for a ball, and when he jumped something didn’t feel right, he said. He finished the practice and received treatment but it didn’t seem to get better.

An MRI revealed he had a partial tear, and he doesn’t believe he’ll be able to participate in the final week of OTAs next week, or potentially even minicamp in mid-June.

“I think I’m done,” Munnerlyn said. “It’s up the trainers. I feel good, I feel like I could go but they don’t want me to make it worse so I might just be sitting it out until training camp.”

• Running back Jonathan Stewart, receiver Lamont Bryant and guard Edmund Kugbila were on the exercise bikes Thursday and sat out of the team activities.

Better communication: The Panthers are enjoying the best communication they’ve had in offseason workouts since Rivera became coach, he said Thursday.

In 2011, the lockout meant no organized team activities for players and coaches. Last year, with Jon Beason injured at middle linebacker, the team had a rookie in the middle trying to communicate the calls.

But with Luke Kuechly coming off his Defensive Rookie of the Year season in 2012, Carolina’s defense under Rivera is communicated better than ever.

“That’s probably one thing we’ve lacked in the first two years,” Rivera said of communication. “Last year it was a new middle linebacker. Now that Luke is much more comfortable and a lot more expressive in terms of the checks and calls he has to make. That’s been really good.

“Guys like (safeties) D.J. Campbell and Charles Godfrey have really stepped their game up in terms of what we’re trying to do. If you want to quantify it by learning, that’s what it’s about. These guys are getting more and more comfortable in the system."

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